Low Polygon Models

Over the corresponding weeks, I have been practicing making low poly models for a Wacky Races style race track that my team was tasked with. We had to create a small part of a race track with at least one vehicle featured in it. Each model had to be under 1000 tris (triangle faces). My job was to work on the vehicles. I also worked on the trees for the environment. The environment wasn’t my main job but it was something that I assisted in. I started in making concept art for my vehicle designs before actually getting to work on the models.

Car render

The sports car was inspired by Sonic’s car in the Sonic & All Stars Racing games. I didn’t want it to look basic so I included some patterns to it with headlights acting as eyes. The model consists 474 verts, 1056 edges, 576 faces, 960 tris and 1020 UVs.  I used a fair amount of booleans, extrusions and triangulate/quadrangulate in making may model.

Monobile render

This vehicle was based on the monopoly car. I included the top hat as well a funny little moustache and eye glass on to the car to give it its own personality. I have also included some red and white lines as well as the words ‘Monobile’ on the sides (Unfortunately, I wrote Monobile backwards). This vehicle wasn’t as big as the other car with 398 verts, 855 edges, 470 faces, 778 tris and 918 UV’s.

Tree Render

The final piece of modelling that I worked on was the tree. I made this out of three shapes: two cylinders and a sphere with the amount of faces decreased. The design is rather basic, I mainly just moved the vertex’s out to make it an imperfect shape. I used a ramp shader on the leaves to make a cartoony look to the tree. The model contains 191 verts, 410 edges, 221 faces, 378 tris and 360 UV’s.



Bump Maps

I will be covering the different types of mapping available when modelling. Bump maps can create detail in the model that is actually fake. It doesn’t add any additional resolution to the model as bump maps are grayscale images that are limited to 8-bits of colour information.  The values in a bump map are used to tell the 3D modelling software up or down. If the values are close to 50% grey then there’s little to no detail that will show through on the surface. Turning the colour closer to white will make the details appear to be pulling out of the surface whereas turning it closer to black will do the opposite and make then appear to be pushing in. Wrinkles and pores are some examples of what bump mapping can be used to create. Bump mapping can be rather easy to create and edit in a 2D application such as Photoshop or Illustrator, however, bump maps can break if the camera views it at the wrong angle due to the detail being fake. The silhouette of the geometry that the bump map is applied to will remain unaffected the map.

Image result for bump mapping

Normal maps can be referred as a better type of bump since it has essentially replaced it. like bump maps, the detail that they create is also fake. However, unlike a bump map, normal maps use RGB information that corresponds directly with the X, Y and Z axis as the information tells the application the exact direction that the surface normals are oriented in for every polygon. The orientation also tells the application how the polygon should be shaded. Normal maps can be rather difficult to create or edit within a 2D application such as Photoshop so a likely option would be to bake a normal map using a higher resolution model.

Image result for normal mapping

Displacement maps are king when it comes to creating additional detail for low-resolution meshes. In order for detail to be created based on a displacement map, the mesh must be subdivided or tessellated  so real geometry is created. Displacement maps can be painted by hand or baked from a high resolution model and it consists of greyscale values like bump maps. 8-bit displacements are available although they aren’t the best option as using 16 or 18-bit will provide a better result since 8-bit displacements may look good in a 2D space but can sometimes cause banding or other artifacts when they are in 3D due to insufficient range in value.

Image result for displacement mapping

Source of information: https://www.pluralsight.com/blog/film-games/bump-normal-and-displacement-maps.


Ident Animation

Over the weeks, I have been working on my ident animation in Maya. My animation needed to be created within six weeks (class weeks, lessons that weren’t on didn’t count). My animation is complete; however, there was some issues during development. Firstly, I ended up losing my work a couple of times, once due to the location of where it was saved deleted by the college (the X drive was removed and I forgot to make an extra copy). The second and third occasion was due to my files corrupted due to not having enough memory on my G drive. After modelling 3 times, I managed to get the animation to work even the rotations on the boomerang which was annoying to get right since it would rotate 360 degrees one way then rotate the other way and back.

My current ident models looks a lot better than when I first created it as my first attempt since I used images of the actual logos, then made my model around them so that the edges was all lined up and the models looked close to what they are meant to look like. The ‘S’ is a lot smoother around the edges, the ‘H’ is more improved and looks closer to the Batman symbol from the Arkham games with the wings going up a bit. The ‘O’ is more round in the edges and the ‘R’ and ‘T’  are slightly improved but they were already how I wanted them to look. ‘GAMES’ didn’t get much of an improvement since I gave the same design on my last two attempts (didn’t get to the part on my first attempt.

From an animation stand point, I think that it could be improved immensely since it is rather rough as it chugs a bit plus it really doesn’t feel that smooth. The ‘O’ does a 360 degree rotation mostly off screen and doesn’t finish till it just gets on screen. The ‘T’ doesn’t connect with the ‘R’ as I would like. When the Batarang hits the ‘S’ they are both meant to move up to show that the ‘S’ was hit and the ‘H’ is stuck on it. Unfortunately, they both sort of disconnect then reconnect at that point so it looks a bit odd. I also wanted the top half of the ‘S’ to lean forward when moving in to make the sense of the ‘S’ is moving itself in place.

Lighting and rendering

This blog will cover the various different lighting and rendering types that will be used in making games, films, TV shows, etc. Each light type will be available in various other modelling and game engine programs such as Maya and Unity.

The first light type that I will cover is directional light. Directional light is light that goes in a specific direction (obviously) but it works a bit like sunlight. The position of where you place the light icon won’t affect it , the rotation does. Directional light will never fade off and the direction of the light will go all around hence why the position doesn’t matter.


Point lights work often like light bulbs, they spread light in various directions unlike the directional light which spreads light in one direction. Another thing that makes them different to directional light is that point lights do fade so the closer an object is to the light source, the brighter the object will be.


Up next is ambient light. Ambient light is a more secondary light as it casts soft light rays which doesn’t cast any shadows or shading to the object due to not having a specific directionality . It mostly fills in areas that don’t have enough illumination and creates more cartoony  light effects on the object.


Area light works almost exactly like directional light only within a set boundary, a circle or rectangle. It’s often used as a light illuminating a room by shining through a window or florescent ceiling lighting. There can be multiple lighting points in a scene to make it more realistic; however, it does come at a cost as this will take longer to render a scene.


Spotlights work exactly as you would expect them to. They are also referred  to as flashlights. In terms of modelling, the light can be edited to make the overall size of the light to be larger, . allowing the player to be able to see further around them. The intensity of the light can also be edited so that they can  see further a head of them. Spotlights are also often used in three point lighting. Three point lighting is used to show of aspects of a character or object. The first light is the key light, it is used to show off the important aspects of a character or object and is the main light. It lights up the area that the audience is most likely to see and has the highest intensity. The second light is the fill light, it is used to show off the highlights of any object. The third light is the back light, it lights up the back of an object but not as much as the key light nor the fill light due to having the lowest intensity. It creates a sense of realism as there is light coming from behind that object even though the audience may not see it.


Volume light is rather similar to a point light as they both emit  directional rays from a single point. However; volume lights have a specific shape and size which affects it’s falloff. Volume light can changed into either a cube, sphere, cylinder or cone. If you plan on using a volume light to light up an object then you need to have the light placed close to the object.

Information about light types was found at this link: https://www.pluralsight.com/blog/film-games/understanding-different-light-types.


Some settings in these light options can be changed. As you may have noticed in three point lighting, that I have mentioned light intensity. Light intensity is basically how bright that you want the light to be. It can be changed in the light settings as well the light colour (rather self explanatory).

Light linking allows you to set a specific light or group of lights to illuminate a specific object or letting a specific object to only be illuminated by a particular light or group of lights.


Cookies are often used to create an impression that something is there when, in reality, there isn’t. It is often used in movies when they have people in a jungle when there isn’t any trees yet they still make the shadow. They are used for atmosphere and created by putting a mask between the light source and the action. More information on cookies can be found on this link: https://docs.unity3d.com/Manual/Cookies.html.


Naturally, light doesn’t generate any shadows in the modeling software’s such as Maya unless you manually turn on the depth map or ray traced shadows option in the light options. They generally produce similar results although depth map takes less time to render and is the more preferable option. Depth map represents the distance from the light to the surface that it is illuminating. Ray traced shadows are more transparent with softer edges to make the shadows seem more realistic as how they would look in the real world. It works better on coloured surfaces as the shadows are often a darker shade of the colour of the surface that shadow is on. Ray tracing is more time consuming and takes more time to render than depth map. Source: https://knowledge.autodesk.com/support/maya-lt/learn-explore/caas/CloudHelp/cloudhelp/2015/ENU/MayaLT/files/BoL-Depth-map-and-raytraced-shadows-htm.html.


Maya software renderer supports all of the entity types that can be found within Maya. Examples of these entity types include: particles, various geometry and paint effects along with fluid effects. Maya software renderer also features a tool called IPR (Interactive Photo Realistic rendering), this tool allows you to make interactive adjustments to the final render of your image. It also allows complex interconnections such as procedural textures and ramps. Source: https://knowledge.autodesk.com/support/maya/learn-explore/caas/CloudHelp/cloudhelp/2016/ENU/Maya/files/GUID-A0ACB70C-2E74-4BAD-AFDD-1D49A8B34EF2-htm.html.

Image converted using ifftoany

Mental ray renderer is general-purpose renderer that generates physically correct simulations of lighting effects which includes ray traced reflections and refractions, caustics, and global illumination.  Source of information: https://knowledge.autodesk.com/support/3ds-max/learn-explore/caas/CloudHelp/cloudhelp/2017/ENU/3DSMax/files/GUID-484B095B-1229-4CB9-BC53-952AC40F67C2-htm.html.


Finally, I will be covering the Arnold renderer. Arnold is a ray tracing renderer developed to meet the demands of feature-length animations and visual effects. Arnold was the primary renderer of various movies such as Monster House, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Gravity and Pacific Rim. Source: https://www.solidangle.com/arnold/.



Spaceship completion and reflection

My spaceship is finally in the completion stage. Now that the texturing is finished, all that remains is lighting and rendering the ship. There are various different lighting affects (which will be covered in another blog) which can be used; however, I will use the spotlight tool to create a three point lighting on my ship. You need to go onto the ‘Rendering’ menu and select the spotlight (or flashlight) icon in the menu. The icon is just under the left half of the ‘Polygons’ menu.maya-menu

Now you will need to move the spotlight into the position that you want the light to shine in and since the spotlight will be selected, a menu should appear in the left side of the screen.


This is the menu that allows you to edit the spotlight that you are using. The ‘cone angle’ allows the spotlight’slight to be wider enabling  the spotlight to light more of the ship (I wouldn’t recommend having shadows turned on).  The first light is the ‘Key light’, This light is used to show the object/character and is placed at the front of the  model. This light is the brightest out of the three that will be set so the light intensity should be as high as you would like it to be.

The second light is the ‘Back Light’, this brightens up the background or the back of the model. Since this light is mostly going to be used when viewing the ship from various camera angles, the light intensity should be the lowest out of the three spotlights. The third and final light is the fill light. This is used to show the highlights of the model and will be placed far at the side, aimed at the object with a medium light intensity as it is used to show the rest of the model that the main light doesn’t light up so it isn’t just a black shadow that is hard to see.


Here are the screenshots of the final product of my spaceship model. The large circle closest to the camera on the top image is the ‘Key Light’, as you can see, it lights up most of the model along with it being brighter than the other areas of the model. The circle towards the left of the ship is the ‘Fill Light’, it’s slightly darker than the light emitting from the ‘Key Light’ as it’s purpose is to make light to where the ‘Key Light’ doesn’t.


This screenshot focuses on the back of the ship so that you can get a better idea on how the ‘Back Light’ works. It is a lot darker than the other two lights which makes it a little difficult to see the textures on the back of the ship. Realistically, this is how shadows would work since they block light but don’t make things pitch black to the point where you couldn’t see textures on an object. There are other light options that will be covered in another blog post.

I think that the texturing of my ship could be a little better as not all of the lines match each other on the roof of my ship. Also the design of my ship is rather basic from the model to the textures. I will try to work on other designs for spaceships and various textures for my ship; however, this model was mainly to get a hang on how to model in Maya as well as texturing and rendering.

Texturing my model with Photoshop

This lesson involves me making the textures for my spaceship model within Adobe Photoshop. I started off by going into the texture editor so that I could select the ‘Polygons’  select ‘UV snapshot’ in order to save the image of the UV map into my ‘Pictures’ folder. Doing this allows me to open this within Photoshop so that I can draw or place any textures on the map.

With Photoshop open, I had opened up the screenshot then locked that layer so that I can’t change anything in that layer. I had also created another layer which would be underneath the layer of the UV map and changed the background to black. I had done this because the lines of the UV map is white and if I put the background layer above the UV layer then the lines won’t show. Now it’s time to put the textures on. You can get some images from Google; however, this is mainly recommended if you are doing this for quickness as there are websites that have better quality textures.

Save these images into a place where you can find them, I have saved them into ‘My Pictures’ folders in ‘My Documents’ since I use it often so it will be difficult to not find them. Then just drag the file onto the open window, this will put the image onto the Photoshop as a new layer. This will also be in ‘Free Transform’ mode so that you can move and scale the image: put the image onto the shapes of the UV lines which is the faces you want textured then press enter to confirm the transformation. If you have an image from Google then you will have to right click the layer then left click and select ‘Rasterise Layer’, you can’t edit the image or delete it without doing this.

Then you will need to select the UV layer with the ‘Magic Wand Tool’ selected along with changing a setting to 248 so that it will select the whole texture in a face or the out of face section. Click the outside of the layer so that it will select the outside of the shapes then click back on the layer of the texture you have been editing and finish it by pressing the backspace key. This will make the texture only go in the face and not outside of it. If the texture is overlapping a face that you don’t want, then you can just select it with the magic wand tool and delete it.

3D city concept

Currently, I am working on a 3D city concept which is created in both Autodesk Maya and Adobe Photoshop. I start this out by using Maya in-order to make 3D models using cubes just to create the buildings that maybe seen within a city.building-model-screenshot

I started off with some basic building designs and included some edges to make the buildings more unique such as a round roof building, a zig-zag building, buildings with chimneys, etc. Next, I had taken a screenshot of this model and saved it in my pictures folders in my documents so that I can open it in Photoshop.

With this now opened within Photoshop, I had opened another window so that I could draw some windows onto my buildings. I just used the ‘rectangle’ tool and put some black squares and rectangles all over the place just for quickness as drawing shapes wasn’t was I was focusing on. I copied and pasted the windows image by press ‘ctrl’ + ‘a’ then ‘ctrl’ + ‘c’ on the tab with the rectangles on it then pasted them by pressing ‘ctrl’ + ‘x’ on the tab with my model on it.

The final steps of making this was going onto the ‘layers’ to change ‘normal’ to ‘multiply’ so the drawings will go above the models but not the white background (only white objects won’t go above the image). Then I finished it off with holding ‘right click’ then selecting distort so I could move the edges to match the building to make the buildings have windows then pressed ‘enter’ to approve of the transformation I made. If any windows are overlapping parts of the building that they shouldn’t, such as a building in front, then I can use the eraser tool to remove them but don’t worry about accidentally erasing some thing that you didn’t want removed since the tool only works on the layer selected so the building that you are working on won’t be affected.


Here’s what I have ended up with. This was my first attempt at this so I wasn’t worried about making it perfect.